Look at how good and pleasing it is when families live together as one! It is like expensive oil poured over the head, running down onto the beard—Aaron’s beard!—which extended over the collar of his robes.
Like Aaron’s anointing, like the oil running down onto his beard, saturate us with your presence. Extend over our collars, into our hearts and to our fingers and toes that we might be motivated to be your hands and feet when we leave here today. Amen.
Nearly five-hundred years before Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, the exiled Jewish people looked for an earthly leader for their salvation from genocide. In grief & despair, the Jewish people yearned for a future filled with hope.
Queen Vashti led the way, embracing the image of God within. Mordecai refused to deny God, defying the powerful and honoring his faith. And then a young Esther rose to the challenge, risking all for her people.
Though an imperfect salvation, the Jewish people in the empire survived evil. Because Esther acted in “just such a time as this.”
Through the days of hope for a new King David, to a last supper with our rabbi Jesus, to the shock of Good Friday we have journeyed. Our hope died on the cross at the hands of the powerful Roman empire.
We yearn for a sign, an affirmation that evil will not have the final say in our world. We crave hope. Early on Sunday, the women went to the tomb.
The tomb was empty! The expansive love of God cannot be defeated. God’s love and justice overcomes evil and even death. In just such a time as this, Esther risked all for love of neighbor.
In just such a time as this, Christ arose! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! HALLELUJAH
Faithful, Mordecai reveals his trust in God. Rain continues falling, thunder threatens.
Falling into despair he dons the sackcloth of grief. Thunderous evil persists, death will surely follow.
Esther’s life at risk, she chooses the most loving action in “just such a time as this.” She chooses love and justice and hope.
Let us pray, Mystical one, touch our hearts as you did with Mordecai and Esther. Bolster our resolve and point the way. Perhaps, we too have come to this crossroad, for “just such a time as this.” Amen.
Let us worship the One who loves
in times like then and times like now.
Tasting grief, tasting joy, with hesitancy and resolve we are here to worship God.
Come and worship! How can we worship in “such a time as this”?
Yes, the world feels hopeless but come and worship! Why worship in “such a time as this”?
Yes, human kindred don’t listen to one another. Friends worry about winning at the expense of joy, but come and worship! Who is there to worship in “such a time as this”?
Do not let the world steal your joy! Turn to the divine embedded in creation and creator especially now. Where is the joy in “such a time as this”?
Look around you. God has not left you. God is present in the struggle and in the heartache. God is present in neighbor, enemy, and family. God calls most emphatically in “just such a time as this!” But it’s hard to perceive!
Come and worship anyway! We are here. We have come to worship in “just such a time as this!”
contestants go thru a demeaning pageant—even by ancient standards
cousin who raised Esther
works in palace
sees that Esther she gets into contest
The Bachelor: Persia,
rated M for mature audiences
This would not be media consumption I’d allow my grandkids
Throughout the process, Esther keeps faith & ethnicity from others
Mordecai told her not to tell
Probably for her safety
Likely for her overall well being
It enabled her to become queen
Mordecai discovers a plot against king
he encourages Esther to tell the king
she does so in his name
Guess what happens?
The plotters are brutally killed
more media I wouldn’t allow my kids
And Haman enters the story.
Haman is promoted
during current day Purim services, traditional to make noise when name mentioned
Tradition says this is done so that his evil name is never heard again and because it is the Jews’ responsibility to “make noise,” to speak up when they see evil. (JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, ¶ 438)
King ordered all to bow down to Haman
Everyone but Mordecai obeyed
other servants pestered him
“because I’m a Jew”
Can bow only for God
Haman was ticked
So annoyed that punishing Mordecai was not enough
Haman plots to have the king order all Jews killed
like Vashti’s punishment not enough to punish her
all women ordered to obey
like blaming all Muslims for terrorism
To summarize, Mordecai insists Esther not reveal her faith.
Mordecai reveals his faith
leads to death sentence for all Jews in empire
“Do as I say, not as I do!”
Mordecai didn’t know all Jews would be punished
Still, risky to tell or he wouldn’t have stopped Esther
Feels like in middle
just about right
Esther is a novella
If missed last week,
missed first couple episodes of 6
Just starting to get good
Not sure where it’s headed
But this is scripture.
novella is morality tale
sometimes facts stretched to make a point in literature
Bible no different
Berlin and Brettler suggest that “It stretches credibility to imagine that Esther could keep her ethnic identity a secret, but it is vital to the plot.”
So, what is the moral of this episode in our novella?
compare Mordecai & Esther with secrets
we can blend in with culture if we keep our faith secret
comes a point when we have to decide
The time has not come for Esther to decide.
Mordecai had to decide in this chapter of our novella
forced by “just such a time as this” to claim his faith
or deny it
or deny God
Will it matter when the time comes for Esther?
middle of story
What does this episode/chapter mean for us?
If we are faithful, we can’t hide it, not really
because markers of faith
not bowing for instance
or preventing a murder
the way we treat others
Too many practices of faith that differ from culture
We have markers to our faith, too
What are our markers?
As FCC Christians?
There are times when it’s appropriate to be silent.
safety of others
when others are telling us their spiritual journeys
when our story would come off as judgmental
when it’s braggadocios
But like present day Jews, there comes a time to
“make noise,” to speak up when they see evil. (JPS Dictionary of Jewish Words, ¶ 438)
It can be hard to know when to speak out and when it’s not
(Mordecai today’s episode)
listen to the Holy Spirit
listen to the Holy Spirit
test with our kindred Christians
our own emotions can get us into trouble
Just as the time will come for Esther in our novella, it will comes for us
Just as it has in past
faithfulness ALWAYS takes risk
During Lenten season, listen.
What are we called to do in “just such a time as this”? Amen.
I delivered this sermon on March 12, 2017 at the First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Albany, Oregon.